Managing your energy use
Energy can be a significant cost for an organisation. However, in many cases putting in place an effective energy management strategy can lead to substantial savings.
To achieve real cost savings your business may need to draw up an energy policy and make energy management a priority throughout the organisation. Invest NI provides specialist support to help businesses reduce their carbon emissions and energy costs by using energy more efficiently.
This guide explains what energy management is and how to develop and implement an energy management strategy. It highlights the energy savings that good energy management can bring and the financial benefits that result. It also gives guidance on some of the practical short and long-term measures that your business can take to reduce energy usage.
Energy management overview
Organisations of all sizes can benefit from monitoring and controlling energy use, and conserving energy by putting in place an energy management strategy. To be effective, this must be put in place throughout the business, starting with key decision makers and involving all employees.
Successful energy management combines an effective strategy with the right practical measures. Many of these can be made straightaway and cost little or nothing.
Build the business case for energy management
To make real energy savings, senior management must be convinced that putting in place an energy management strategy will deliver real business benefits. Most organisations can save 20 per cent on their energy bills by managing energy use and investing in cost-effective measures.
Business benefits of energy management
Highlight the financial and other benefits when you present the business case for implementing an energy strategy to senior management. These can include:
- cost savings
- tax advantages through the Enhanced Capital Allowances scheme
- a possible reduction in Climate Change Levy
- an enhanced reputation through demonstrating 'green' credentials, giving you a competitive 'edge'
- certification to ISO 50001 Energy Management System
- improved working conditions for staff
Six key steps of an energy management strategy
Putting in place a successful energy management strategy involves following six key steps.
Step 1 - get commitment and appoint an energy manager
The first step is to make sure that senior management understands the business benefits of an energy strategy and supports the proposed energy-saving measures. Appointing an energy manager demonstrates that the business takes its energy-saving goals seriously. The energy manager's role is to:
- Lead the energy team in their energy-saving actions
- communicate and emphasise to colleagues the importance of the energy strategy
The energy manager needs experience and training to be effective - relevant professional qualifications are available. Depending on the size of your organisation the role might be full or part time.
Step 2 - understand the issues
To manage energy use effectively you need to have a clear understanding of:
- how your business is currently using energy
- how your energy usage compares with other businesses
- attitudes within your business towards adopting energy-saving measures
The Carbon Trust has produced guidance for businesses on implementing an effective energy management strategy. This includes an energy matrix to help you assess your current performance.
Step 3 - plan and organise
Start by carrying out an energy survey to see where you can make energy savings. Use all the information you gather to produce an energy policy and identify long, medium and short-term energy-saving targets.
Step 4 - develop an action plan
Once you have identified your targets, draw up an action plan outlining the practical steps your business will take to achieve your goals. Give individuals responsibility for specific tasks.
Step 5 - involve your staff
It's very important to get support for the energy strategy from:
- key decision makers
- senior management
- staff at all levels of the business
Carrying out training and highlighting the strategy's benefits all help to boost staff participation. For guidance on how to motivate staff to save energy, download creating an energy awareness campaign pack (PDF, 5.4MB).
Step 6 - control, monitor and report
Monitor your performance regularly to check that you're making progress towards your energy-saving goals. Put in place procedures to make sure your systems will carry on operating efficiently and continue to make savings in the future. Let staff know how progress towards achieving targets is going - this helps to keep them motivated.
Develop an energy management policy
Effective energy management starts with the publication of a policy, which applies across the whole organisation.
What an energy policy covers
An energy policy sets out in writing the way a business will use energy, and what energy-saving targets it hopes to achieve. It outlines:
- the ways in which the business will meet targets
- what contributions are expected from managers and staff
- plans for continuing to improve energy efficiency in the future
Most energy policies have two parts, part A and part B.
Energy policy Part A
This is a high level statement that sets out the energy-saving principles that the business is committed to. It confirms that proposed energy-saving policies and actions have the full support of senior management and it provides an overall framework for delivering energy savings.
Energy policy Part B
This is a much more detailed document. It sets out specific targets and outlines how these will be achieved. It includes details of the measures that will be taken and who is responsible for making sure they happen. It should also set out when progress will be reviewed.
The Carbon Trust has produced guidance for businesses on implementing an effective energy management strategy. This includes a sample energy policy that you could use as a template for your own policy document.
Implementing the energy policy
Implementing your energy policy involves:
- deciding on specific actions to take to save energy
- putting these actions into an order of priority
It's important to set realistic and achievable energy-saving targets. For example, if your business commits to a percentage reduction in carbon emissions, make sure that this is achievable.
Once senior management has agreed the targets you can produce an action plan. This sets out in practical terms the tasks to be completed.
Managing energy use by monitoring and metering
Understanding how your business currently uses energy will help you to manage it efficiently. If you measure and monitor your current usage you'll be able to identify:
- existing patterns of consumption
- opportunities to save money
You'll also be able to compare your energy consumption against that of other similar businesses.
Measuring and monitoring energy use
To measure your overall energy usage accurately you'll need to record your organisation's consumption of each energy type - eg gas, electricity, oil and renewables. Decide on how consumption will be measured - larger businesses might measure energy use by different departments or during different processes.
Collect details of how much energy is used. This usually involves reading meters and submeters. Half-hourly meters and smart meters can provide very detailed information about energy use.
Bringing together all the information will help you see where practical energy and cost-saving measures can be put in place.
Carrying out an energy survey
Carrying out an energy survey is a key part of measuring and monitoring your energy consumption. An energy survey is a physical site inspection to identify areas where energy savings can be made.
The survey can cover the whole site or just focus on selected areas, processes or equipment. You could carry out surveys at different times of the day or week to identify different levels of energy use.
Set energy saving targets
Monitoring the different ways in which your business uses energy helps to highlight the best energy-saving opportunities. Use this information to set clear, measurable targets for reducing energy use. Think about expressing objectives and targets in ways that encourage staff throughout the business to participate in energy-saving measures.
There are a number of ways in which you can express energy-saving targets, such as:
- reducing energy consumption - either overall or by a particular department or process
- reducing emissions of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e)
- increasing the percentage of the energy budget invested in energy-saving measures
- improving the return on investment from energy efficiency activities
- increased staff awareness
- increasing the number of staff given energy efficiency training
- measuring an increase in energy-saving actions by staff
You can also use the Carbon Trust energy matrix to benchmark improvements in energy efficiency - see key steps in developing an energy management strategy.
To be achievable, targets need to be:
- based on a thorough understanding of your current energy consumption and of the potential for savings to be made
Implement energy efficient measures
After writing an energy policy, carrying out an energy survey, setting energy-saving objectives and targets and identifying what measures to take, the next step is to develop an action plan for implementing the measures.
Creating an energy-saving action plan
Your action plan should set out in detail how all the energy-saving measures will be carried out in order of priority.
Actions can be ordered into short, medium and long-term projects as well as no-cost and low-cost measures and measures that need capital investment. Starting with short-term and low-cost measures can be effective because they make an immediate impact and help to get people interested in the campaign.
The action plan should cover:
- target dates, costs and resources needed for each measure
- key roles and who will carry out the measures
- investment in energy-saving equipment if necessary
- the availability of financial assistance eg through Invest Northern Ireland
Communicating the energy-saving actions
Effective energy management depends on everyone being involved and playing their part. So it's very important to make employees and stakeholders aware of the energy-saving action plan at every stage.
They need to know:
- why the measures are being taken
- what is being done - explain the aims and energy-saving targets
- when the measures will be implemented
- how they can be involved
To get the energy strategy off to a good start you could:
- hold a launch event to generate awareness and interest
- provide training for staff to boost motivation and participation
- highlight initial 'quick-win' actions and plan regular update meetings
- publicise successes to stakeholders like shareholders and customers
Cutting our energy costs - City Hotel Derry (video)
City Hotel Derry is a 158-bedroom hotel, built in 2002, sitting on the banks of the River Foyle. Feargal O'Canain, General Manager of City Hotel, talks about the range of measures put in place to reduce the hotel's carbon footprint and reduce energy costs, with advice and support from Invest Northern Ireland.
Measures such as LED lighting, self-closing windows, an upgraded Building Maintenance System, a robust staff training and engagement programme, and continuous reviews have led to clear benefits for City Hotel in terms of reduced carbon emissions and a healthier balance sheet.